Playscripts is this awesome publisher that puts a different play online each week to allow people the opportunity to read plays that they might not otherwise have access to. I’ve rarely taken advantage of this generous offer, but I found myself clicking on the link during a spare moment and saw that Lauren Gunderson’s I and You was the play of the week.
I’ve been lucky enough to see several of Gunderson’s plays–Ada and the Engine, Bauer, By and By, and a staged reading of The Revolutionists–and I believe she is a great talent. She also happens to live nearby and taught a play-writing class that I attended a few years ago at the Playwright Foundation.
So I dove into the play, knowing nothing about it. And I am so glad I did because it touched me like no play has in a long time. (And I go to the theater a lot.) I laughed and cried and laughed and cried some more. By the end, I was sobbing, but in a good way.
Staged in one room with only two characters, it first appears to be a simple story of two teens working on a class project together. Caroline has become a shut-in due to a medical condition, and Anthony must convince her that Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is worthy of her attention so that she will help him get a good grade on this multi-media assignment.
But there are so many layers, authentic emotions and reactions, humor, and such heart that I fell in love with these characters and truly cared what happened to them. After I finished reading it, I was so overcome by emotion that I just had to let Lauren know how it affected me. So I sent her a rather gushing e-mail to thank her for her beautiful play. I hope she doesn’t think I’m a stalker or anything, but I figured when a work of art grabs your heart that way–and you happen to have the artist’s e-mail address from having taken a class from her–then you should let said artist know. Right? It’s not like I’m following her home and trying to peek in her windows.
So, at 53, I think I just sent my first piece of fan mail…